Bad News for Vegan Aging

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a doctor or a nutritionist. I am NOT recommending that anyone reading this post take any supplement without first consulting their own health care professional.

In the year plus that I’ve been mostly vegan, I’ve learned some things about nutrients that people who are consuming a vegan diet are missing. I found a new one which I’d like to share.

L-Carnosine

Please READ THIS ARTICLE on Carnosine, which details the many health benefits of this amino acid. (Some may refer to Carnosine as a dipeptide, meaning two amino acids joined together. In the case of Carnosine, it’s the combination of beta-alanine and L-histidine.)

Most notably, in my opinion, Carnosine helps reduce protein glycation – which is a fancy way of saying that as your body takes in sugars like fructose (from eating fruit, for example), those sugars create free radicals and damage your cells. This damage causes, among other things, cells to age.

Carnosine is naturally ingested by people who eat meat. However, Carnosine is available as a supplement too.

It is VERY ironic to me that vegans will “suffer” the ill effects of not ingesting Carnosine to help delay the aging process unless we use supplements. However, even eating a lot of red meat may not be sufficient amount of Carnosine to accumulate the benefits of this amino acid.

 

Previously, I’ve written about the use of Creatine and my personal experiences with that supplement too. If you are a vegetarian or a vegan, you have very low levels of creatine in your body from not eating meat. If you are an athlete, you may want to consider supplementation. Please look for my other posts about this.

In keeping with this form of experimentation, I have ordered some Carnosine and once I get the supplement I will begin taking it.

No one seems to know the “correct dosage” for Carnosine, however the supplement producers are making 500 mg capsules as the daily dose, so my plan is to begin taking the 500 mg daily. I will plan to report back on the effects, so far as I am able to observe them (nothing like being my own lab rat!)

Some final thoughts…

Vegans are probably, by nature, already health conscious since we are careful about what we’re putting into our bodies. However, we still have to be mindful that by deleting entire food groups from our meal plans, we are missing different nutrients (B12, Carnosine and Creatine for example.)

If we choose to, we can take supplements to remain in better overall balance, while still avoiding the foods we don’t want to eat.

In my opinion, a great daily multi-vitamin is a wonderful place to start. If you are a (pre-menopausal) woman, and a vegan, get a multi that has B12, calcium, iron and zinc.

If you want to go beyond that, consider supplements that are right for you.

I’ve chosen to be mostly vegan. I consume eggs, and I also choose to take a fish oil based Omega 3 supplement daily – although I do not eat fish. (Yes, I know flax and chia seeds have Omega 3’s, but not anywhere near supplement levels.)

Now I will add a Carnosine supplement too.

Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to get straight answers about health and nutrition in this country, especially as it pertains to supplements. It’s always a good idea to do as much research as possible, or talking to your personal health care provider, until you feel comfortable with what you decide to take.

I’m wishing everyone great health!

 

Additional Reading on Carnosine

Wiki page for Carnosine

Life Extension Magazine on Carnosine

BodyBuilding.com (older article) on Carnosine

Advertisements

It’s Sick, How Healthy I Am

Yes, after over a year of being a vegetarian, I am disgustingly healthy. Even my doctor says so.

And while it took me several months, initially, to get over not being able to eat bacon and fried chicken, I’m now fully adjusted to not eating meat. However, as a vegetarian, I’ve continued eating eggs and dairy (cheese, butter, milk, yogurt, ice cream.)

That’s not all. I’ve also given up drinking caffeine.

I’ve never been a coffee drinker, but I had a mean diet cola beverage habit and addiction. After giving that up, I realized all my morning fog and grogginess was due to caffeine. The very product that helps you “wake up” and gives you “energy” is the SAME product that makes you tired later in the afternoon when it wears off. If you don’t ingest caffeine, this cycle of up and down stops. When you feel tired, you’re actually tired.

What do I drink now, you may ask? Answer: Water. Lots of it. (If you do too, your digestive system will behave itself very nicely as it processes your meals.)

I also take vitamins. Everyday. A multi-vitamin, a B complex, and extra Vitamin C (500 – 1000 mg.) Sometimes, for an extra boost, I take an Omega 3 supplement. For people who aren’t taking vitamins but who want to start, I suggest beginning with a complete multi-vitamin of your choice.

I do not take the “best” vitamins on the market, and that’s because I’ve decided to take gummy vitamins. Why gummy? Because they’re extremely easy to take; I don’t have to swallow a pill… which means I will actually take them everyday. If you don’t like swallowing pills, you may also want to consider gummy vitamins or chewable vitamin C, for example.

And yes, now I exercise regularly too. Nothing crazy, I’m not out doing Ironman competitions…but I am walking 4-6 miles several times a week. Walking is good for you, easy to do (do you sense my theme?) and the only “equipment” needed is a pair of sneakers. Walking is easier on your joints than running, although it is also less aerobically intensive and therefore doesn’t burn as many calories.

Coincidentally, other “stuff I don’t do” includes drinking alcohol. I was never a drinker (maybe with the exception of one sip of champagne at a wedding) so I don’t miss it; nor do I miss the calories that get added to your diet when you drink.

.

But now I am thinking about going some extra steps. And these steps will be more difficult and challenging.

I’m strongly considering giving up eggs and dairy. Just as it took me several months to give up meat, I’m not planning to go “cold turkey” (haha) on eggs and dairy.

My first step on this journey is giving up butter and liquid milk. Giving up milk is really easy for me because I don’t drink it. If I want a milk substitute, almond milk tastes great. Butter is also relatively easy because in cooking I use olive oil, but I do like the occasional piece of toast with butter that I’m now planning to “sacrifice.”

Eggs, on the other hand, are a HUGE DEAL. Giving up eggs is like… I don’t know. It’s big. Eggs are the last vestiges of “giving up meat” in my diet.

No more fried eggs!

No more omelettes!

Just like with chicken, I’d guess that when it comes to eggs I might slip up for a while. Maybe I’ll go to an egg white system before I wean myself off eggs, I’m not sure. I don’t mind admitting, it seems a bit scary, but I think I can do it.

ALL of these things are taking me down a path towards… ve… veg……… oh man, veganism. I’ll be one of those totally wierd, vegan hippies.

How did this happen?

Well, for starters, I FEEL BETTER.

I HAVE MORE ENERGY.

I am HEALTHIER now than I’ve been in years.

And yes, I’d like to lose even more weight than what I’ve lost to date.

Hell, I’d like to LIVE LONGER.

And while I’ve been investigating all this stuff, I recently came across a documentary that sums up some of the scientific literature behind why this works. It’s called “Forks Over Knives.” It’s interesting to watch, if this area is something you want to know more about, so I’d recommend it.

In the meantime, even I can’t believe that it’s possible to be even healthier than I am right now, which is pretty downright disgustingly healthy.

But I’m gonna try.

And Another Thing!

Like the good, on-my-way-to-healthier-living doobie that I am I got up this morning and worked out at the hotel fitness center referred to in my post yesterday. I skipped the donut-or-bagel hotel breakfast, and although it is not ideal to work out on an empty stomach, I went right to my workout with the intention of treating myself to a “green” lunch.

Now, I haven’t said this on the blog before, but in the last few months I have been migrating towards vegetarianism, like an animal migrating to its winter den to hibernate there, sleepy and undernourished for a while until it comes out, and attacks the nearest moose it can get its big, sharp claws on.  But I digress.

I coyly alluded to my intentions by posting something about tofu awhile ago, and I’ve posted about cucumber salads, but this is a whole other level of commitment.

The thing is, eating healthy shouldn’t be hard. Greens, veggies and fruits should be readily available in restaurants and take-out shops and generally speaking it shouldn’t be too much to ask for these foods to be tasty.

I’m sorry to report the obvious but as a nation we would much rather eat meat. Meat on our salads, meat with our potatoes, meat with our meat and if possible, more meat please. But I wasn’t born somewhere else so I too have this meat fixation. I confess my love of fried chicken. Okay, and bacon. And BBQ. Maybe a nice char-broiled steak. (My mouth is salivating as I write this.) But these days, those foods are not sullying my body, although I do sometimes wish to be sullied, I hunker down instead and spoon an extra helping of sunflower seeds onto my rabbit food.

So I did a work out this morning and I was pretty hungry afterwards so I headed over to the Whole Foods with the intention of enjoying their salad bar. In Manhattan there is a Whole Foods in Tribeca with a phenomenal salad bar. You can get soups, salads, pizza, hot Indian food, hot Chinese food, cold Greek food, regular salads, roasted vegetables… basically a vegetarian’s dream come true. I was surprised to find the Whole Foods I went to here in California had one paltry “organic” salad greens area and that’s it.

Okay, when in Rome, I thought.

I piled my take-out box full of all-organic goodness: greens, cucumbers, cute cherry tomatoes, seeds and nuts, radishes, celery… you get the idea. When I took my salad outside and settled in at one of the tables I was prepared to enjoy my fresh food. I took the first bite and I swear the salad tasted like feet. It tasted like organically grown hippy feet, to be more precise. I’ve never had salad taste quite like that, and I’ll be very pleased if I never eat something like that again.

I picked around the salad and ate the parts I knew were okay: green peas, the cute tomatoes, sunflower seeds, and cucumbers. The rest of it was highly suspect, especially the organic celery and radishes which I believe were the foot source.

Afterward I went to the vitamin shop because I had run out of Vitamin C, but more importantly I read online that people who do not eat meat, eggs, cheese, milk for long-ish periods of time can suffer from Vitamin B12 deficiency. It turns out that our bodies don’t produce B12, and it’s not found in plant foods unless it is fortified (through some industrial process.) Normally we can get the B12 we need from meat, dairy, or eggs.

I haven’t given up eating eggs, cheese, butter, or ice cream. I have to draw the line somewhere, and I’ve drawn the line between being a vegan (someone who avoids all animal products – something I am not prepared to do) and being a “mostly” vegetarian, someone who eats eggs, cheese, butter, ice cream, yogurt, and when I’m having a particularly insane craving, possibly fried chicken. I said “mostly” vegetarian so please don’t write in the comments that I’m not a “real vegetarian” or a “true vegetarian” because I’ll just agree with you. But I’ve cut out meat 99.99% of the time.

I bought the Vitamin C and a B-complex vitamin which includes B12 along with the other B vitamins and their absorption support systems (folic acid, for example) and I took that today. As I reported, I also ate the big salad for lunch, worked out, and have thusfar spent the day being a health nut.

How am I feeling, you might ask? Eh. Okay, but virtuous.

It’s unclear to me if I’ll be able to sustain this level of commitment to a vegetarian “lifestyle” (did I just say that? Oy.) but I’m willing to continue to see if it helps me maintain energy, be healthier, potentially lose weight and stave off the impending crush of old age for another day or two.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

A fallow moment

Fallow, adj: Plowed and harrowed but left unsown for a period in order to restore its fertility

As you may (or may not) have noticed, my writing productivity has slowed this month on the blog. It’s not just the blog actually, it is also in my writing, and submitting activities too.

I’ve been rejuvenating myself physically, and psychologically.

The last several months have been challenging on a few levels. I haven’t talked about it on the blog, and I likely won’t, but I feel like I’m waiting to get through this tunnel…I can see the shafts of light streaming through the opening at the end, but I haven’t emerged into full sunlight yet.

Some positives help keep me going. I’ve been working hard on my physical being. This means, for me, walking 5-6 miles a day, eating mostly vegetables, taking vitamins and combatting my insomnia.

It’s strange, but I seem to have a nearly inhuman amount of energy from this new regimen. I’m so amped up with energy from the exercise and possibly the vitamins (?) it has dampened my appetite. I’m eating only once a day.

It’s bizarre to say this, but the less I eat, the higher my energy levels get. It’s completely counter-intuitive. And yet…I’ve lost 11 pounds thusfar. I feel good, with more to go.

Also gratifying to see is my blog traffic has miraculously maintained itself pretty well even though I’ve cut back on postings. Many thanks to all of you who continue to participate in and ponder the posts here. I love the idea that a global community of writers comes to my blog, and I love hearing from all of you.

As for the rest of my life…I’m putting my energies where they need to be: being around friends, drawing on the advice of work colleagues, experts and gurus, continuing to draw on an amazing support network of people I know and care about, and pushing forward.

Thanks for listening, and reading. 🙂